Woman With Gigantism Gets Help for Brain Surgery

Nevada paramedics who were touched by the story of a 6-foot 11-inch woman with gigantism, say they can transport Tanya Angus to life-saving surgery in California next month.

Angus, who is 6-feet 11-inches tall and 372 pounds, is the only known documented case in the world in which surgery and medications cannot control her growth. She has a tumor on her pituitary gland.

She has had three surgeries. One 13-hour operation nearly killed her, and another caused a stroke that took away most of her hearing.

Nearly crushed by her weight, Tanya is scheduled to go to undergo surgery at Saint John's Health Center at John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, Calif., sometime this month.

VIDEO: Tanya Angus is dreading a fifth surgery to remove a tumor caused by acromegaly.
Tanya Angus: The Pain of Battling Gigantism

Paramedics and staff at American Medical Response who heard Tanya's story began calling and e-mailing their bosses, who responded by providing a specialty care transport vehicle that can accommodate Tanya.

"A vehicle like this offers the extra room to make the ride comfortable for her," AMR operations manager Chad Henry told ABC's affiliate KTNV.

AMR and Medic West Ambulance respond to nearly 600 emergency calls a day in southern Nevada.

The Big Get Bigger
What If You Never Stopped Growing?

The company has offered the super-sized vehicle for free, complete with a trained medical team, for the five-hour ride to Santa Monica.

"We are honored to help her with this step during such a difficult journey, and wish her and her family our best," said Tony Greenway, an EMT-P and manager of Medic West.

Her mother, Karen Strutynski of Las Vegas, Nevada, said she was overwhelmed with "tears of happiness."

"And there's hope," she told KTNV. "I'm just grateful, truly grateful."

Angus has also received numerous financial donations to cover food and lodging during and after her surgery.

An estimated 1 in 5, or 60 million Americans, suffers from pituitary or hormonal disorder, according to the Pituitary Network Association.

Angus, once a beautiful 21-year-old who rode horses, danced and had a boyfriend, one day noticed changes in her 5-foot-8-inch frame: Her shoes didn't quite fit, her jeans were too tight and her hands got bigger.

"She was perfectly normal, but by age 22 she had grown three inches," said her mother. "Nobody knew what was going on."

Angus, who lived in Michigan and was a supervisor at a Wal-Mart, began to worry when even her face and head got larger. Her bosses also noticed -- and fired her. And her boyfriend left when his parents began to ask, "Is she a man?'"

Tanya decided to return home in 2002. When her sister picked her up at the airport, she "freaked out," because she didn't recognize Tanya.

The doctor took one look and diagnosed acromegaly, also known as gigantism, caused by a tumor in her brain that is pushing on her pituitary gland, causing it to produce an excess of growth hormone.

"I don't know how to explain how it is, being a giant," Tanya told ABC's affiliate KTNV. "I put my shoes on in the morning, I'm like, 'Ugh, gosh they're growing again. I'm growing again.'"

Tanya has already outgrown three vehicles, according to Strutynski, 54, a medic who works three part-time jobs.

"If I could stick her on a regular airplane it would be no problem, a couple hundred dollars and she goes, but she doesn't fit," she said.

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